Camp COVID: BEHOLD!An Activity that is a WIN WIN WIN! (for your kids, isolated loved ones, and bookstores!)

Eureka! Friends, my boys and I have an activity for you that is a WIN for our quarantined kids. It is a WIN for our  isolated loved ones. It is a WIN for our bookstores who are struggling in the economic crisis. WIN! WIN! WIN! And as bonus, it will help your favorite authors put food on the table, too!

Print: A Bookstore, Portland, Maine

PRINT: A Bookstore, this is our beloved indie bookstore!

So what is this amazing activity? It’s so simple and so sweet. A virtual book club between your kids and your isolated family or friends over video chat. Imagine your kids at the kitchen table, with a grandparent or family friend reading an exciting book in daily installments over video chat. I’m calling it #theBooksthatBindUs.

Here’s how it works:

STEP 1: Call your favorite local bookstore. Ask them to recommend a great read aloud. TIP: Think about what will grab your kids’ interests! If you are unsure, describe your kiddos to the bookstore employees. And let them do the rest!

For my boys, I wanted something that was plot driven and action packed. I knew just the book, one that combines a Goonies-level-kid-team, plus the planet Mars, some explosions please, not to mention a fabulous mystery, and some futuristic science tools to helps them solve an epic global conspiracy. That’s a tall order, but THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY by Katie Slivensky fits the bill! It is one of my favorites!! Smart, fun, and one you can read again and again! TIP: Order a copy of the book for your kids as well, so they can follow along if they choose to.

Countdown Conspiracy By Katie Slivensky

Countdown Conspiracy by Katie Slivensky, an incredible science-packed, fast-paced adventure!

STEP 2: RECRUIT a treasured/quarantined/probably-bored loved one to read the book to your children over video chat! One of my very best friends (an adopted grandmother for my boys), Jan Kendrick, was up to the task.

Next, The Bookseller will either deliver the book to your doorstep or send them in the mail. Our local independent bookshop is called Print: A Bookstore. They offer both services.

Book Mobile Delivers books during quarantine

Our Local Indie PRINT: A Bookstore has loaded up the bookmobile to deliver books to quarantined customers!

STEP 3: SET AN APPOINTMENT. We chose lunch time. The boys are already seated (read trapped) and they are eating which means talking is more difficult. I put the computer right on the kitchen table. But this story is so good and time with Jan so precious, they were 100% focused!

Jan Reading to my boys bookclub time

Jan reading to my boys over video chat!

STEP 4: CONNECT. I have to say, I had high hopes for this activity. But it actually made me teary. First, the boys were so thrilled to see Jan and spend time with her. And Jan clearly loved it, too. They asked her so many questions about the book, exploring other planets. I could tell how much author Katie Slivensky captured their imaginations. Chapter 1 left us on a cliff hanger. And the boys both shouted “Oh!” and immediately wanted more. They have already asked when Jan will be calling with the next installment. Don’t worry, boys, today at lunch!

So, #theBooksthatBindUs gives the kids have another daily chance to fall in love with books while out of school.

Books bind us! Connecting through books

Reading Books Together over FaceTime

The kids and our isolated loved ones can connect. Booksellers get some well-deserved business (we have to keep them going so they’ll be open after the crisis!) Authors get to keep writing. And homeschooling grown-ups can even take a shower or brush their teeth during the read aloud. Though, fair warning, you might just get sucked into the story! Don’t forget to show us your virtual BookClub on social media using the hashtag #theBooksthatBindUs.



P.S. Have recommendations for great family read alouds? Comment with titles and why you loved them below. Also, if you don’t have an independent bookstore in your town, use mine! They can ship! And you’ll love being a part of our book community!

P.P.S. In just a few weeks, my debut picture book will hit bookstores everywhere. I can’t think of a better moment to introduce you to a brave hero who courageously saved the words that built America. I am talking about the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and more. This man’s TRUE and long forgotten actions inspired me to be brave during a tough time in my life and I hope they’ll inspire you! You can pre-order now. All pre-orders through PRINT: A Bookstore will be entered to win a signed bundle of all four of my books!

Rescuing the Declaration of Independence: How We Almost Lost the Words that Built America